Nagaland Chief Minister Shurhozelie Liezietsu on Wednesday failed to turn up for the floor test in the Assembly, even as 47 legislators supporting the return of T.R. Zeliang as Chief Minister were present in the House. Speaker Imtiwapang Aier, who adjourned the House sine die, said the motion to prove the majority of the Chief Minister could not be taken up as he was not present.
“I have already submitted a report to the Governor on the development in the House,” Aier told IANS.
“No time (for the floor test) was given to us. How can we attend the Assembly session when most of us are not even in Kohima, and that too the Assembly session was summoned at midnight (Tuesday night),” ruling Naga People’s Front government spokesperson Yitachu asked. “We don’t understand the urgency of summoning the Assembly session since the ongoing political development is an internal matter within the NPF party and the matter should be resolved outside the floor of the House,” Yitachu told IANS over phone.
On Tuesday night, Governor P.B. Acharya had summoned a special session on Wednesday for the floor test after the Kohima bench of the Gauhati High Court dismissed Liezietsu’s writ petition challenging the Governor’s directive to prove his majority in the Assembly. In his verdict, Justice Lanusungkum Jamir noted that “Liezietsu does not enjoy the support of the majority of the House and therefore it is open to the Governor to act on his own, without any aid and advice”.
Liezietsu, who is a non-elected member in the 60-member House, has the support of 10 members of the ruling Naga People’s Front legislators and one Independent member. Former Chief Minister T.R. Zeliang, who had staked claim to form the new government in the state, was present with his 35 Naga People’s Front legislators, four BJP legislators supporting him and seven Independent members.
“The Chief Minister should gracefully step down rather than refusing to prove his majority in the House,” Tokheho Yepthomi, spokesperson for Zeliang’s group, told IANS. Yepthomi said that Liezietsu’s failure to face the floor test has already proven that he has lost his majority.
“We are now waiting only for the Governor’s decision and we are hopeful that he would invite the majority group to form the new government,” Yepthomi said.
Governor Acharya on July 11 and 13 had issued directives to Liezietsu to seek vote of confidence on or before July 15. In the 60-member Assembly one seat is vacant. The ruling Democratic Alliance of Nagaland coalition has 47 NPF legislators, four Bharatiya Janata Party members, and eight Independents.
The rebellion within the ruling coalition erupted when a section of the NPF accused Liezietsu of indulging in “nepotism” by appointing his son Khriehu Liezietsu as his advisor with cabinet status and pay. Liezietsu, who is also NPF president, was sworn in as Chief Minister on February 22 after Zeliang resigned following violent protest by tribal groups who were opposed to his move to hold civic polls with 33 per cent reservation for women.